Mary Sue Linville
Raymond A. Roberts
Washington Schools Risk Management Pool
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OBJECTIVES
 Personal Liability –vs- Employer Liability
 Review Legal and Social Aspects of Athletics
 Overview of Litigation and Claims Process
 Defensive Coaching and Teaching
 Coordination with other Departments
 Equipment and Facilities Exposures.
2
Changes in Society
 Population Changes
 Gender Issues in Athletics
 Budget Stresses
 Litigation and Claims in Athletics
3
The Five “Time Bombs”

Equipment & Facilities
•
Failure to Act on Medical Emergencies
•
Supervision & Instruction
•
Failure to Document
•
Failure to Report Criminal Sexual Conduct
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Explain This to a Parent
5
Three Acts to Avoid
 Negligent Acts


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Unintentional errors in performing employment duties.
Are you acting within the Course and Scope of your position?
Examples: Failure to Supervise, Failure to maintain equipment
 Criminal Acts


Violation of Criminal Codes cannot be covered by insurance
Examples: Sexual Misconduct or Failure to Report, Assault
and Battery, False Imprisonment
 Intentional Acts



May be Criminal
May not be covered by insurance
Examples: Discrimination, Harassment, Intentional Disregard
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Four Elements of Negligence
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


Duty Owed
Duty Breached
Proximate Cause
Damages Resulting
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Liability, Negligence & Insurance
 Negligence is “The failure to use such care as a
reasonably prudent and careful person would use;
the doing of some act which a person of ordinary
prudence would not have done under similar
circumstances…”
 Liability is established through Intentional or
Negligent acts that damage a third party by
commission or omission.
 No insurance coverage for intentional or criminal
acts!
8
Person Liability -vs- District Liability
 Employees are acting as agents of their employer as
long as they stay within the Course and Scope of
their duties.
 Acting outside of job description or committing
intentional or criminal acts will expose personal
assets.
 Employees, Administrators and their spouses can be
named as individuals in suits against school districts
 Failure to report suspected criminal sexual conduct
between staff and student is a separate crime
punishable by incarceration.
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Personal Liability for Coaches
 Hazing
 Failure to Report Criminal Sexual
 Transporting students is your personal vehicle
 Having students at your home.
 Failure to Render Prompt Medical Care
 Failure to control overly aggressive players
 Failure to supervise volunteers
 Job Descriptions
 Do you have one? When did you last read it?
 Staying within that Description?
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Failure to Report
 Certified and Classified Employees are Required to
Report Criminal Sexual Conduct to
Administrators.
 Administrators Have 48 Hours to Report to Law
Enforcement
 Failure to Due So is a Separate Criminal Offense!
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Ramifications of Personal Liability
 Loss of Career
 Personal Assets are Exposed
 Reputation Damage
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Documentation is Your Friend
 Being right is not enough-we have to prove it!
 Must have proof of maintenance, WSP checks, First
Aid/ CPR training.
 Written Practice Plans
 Written and practiced Emergency Plan
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Coverage, Defense and Indemnity
“What does that mean?”
Course and Scope of Duties Requirement.
• Volunteers must be under supervision of an
employee.
• The District is covered as an entity.
• Insurance can only apply to negligent acts.
• If your action is determined to be criminal,
willful and / or intentional, you will not be
covered
•
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Claims and Litigation Process
 Report all injuries to AD or building administrator
 Designate parent contact person
 Must cooperate with investigation and defense
attorney.
 Depositions
 Witness testimony at trial
 Maintain confidentiality-Loose Lips Sink Ships
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Duties Owed to Student Athletes
 Proper Supervision & Instruction
 Provide Safe Equipment & Facilities
 Warn Participants
 Maintain All Records
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Duties Owed to Student Athletes
(Continued)
 Evaluate Fitness of Participants
 Transport Athletes Safely
 Match Participants
 Foresee Danger
 Provide for Emergency Health Care
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Duty to Provide Safe Equipment &
Facilities
 Discover dangerous conditions and make repairs.
 Document Your Requests for Repairs
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Facilities Recommendations
•
Regular Documented Inspections.
•
Prompt Repair of Hazardous Conditions.
•
Keep records.
•
Formal Reporting and Repairing Procedures.
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Facilities Recommendations
(continued)
•
Coordination between Athletic Department and
Maintenance Department
•
Post proper signs and warning.
•
Do not give keys to students!
•
Never allow unsupervised use of facilities
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Court Case
Kirk v. Washington State University
Kirk was injured during a cheerleading practice, the squad was
practicing shoulder stands and Kirk fell to the Astroturf. She
landed with her full weight on her left elbow, shattering three
bones in the elbow and injured her ankle. The elbow injury
was permanent.
The jury found the defendants negligent for :





Failure to provide adequate training
Failure to provide adequate supervision
Failure to provide adequate coaching
Failure to provide safety padding
Failure to provide a warning regarding the hardness of the
surface
 Failure to provide adequate literature on safe methods
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Supervision
If you can’t see them, you’re not supervising them !
Common Problem Areas:




Multiple activities at the same time
Multiple skill level
Locker rooms
Unlocked Rooms
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Duty to Stop Harassment & Hazing
•
Know your school district policies on harassment &
hazing.
•
Hazing is illegal.
•
Documentable NO TOLERANCE stance!
•
Document your actions!
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Emergency Medical Assistance….
Do You Have a Plan?
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
When in doubt, call 911
Current training in first aid/CPR
AEDs
Adequate first aid supplies.
Report injuries.
Written Medical clearance prior to return.
DO NOT have another student transport
the injured athlete.
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SCENARIO I
Coarse and Scope of Employment
 Wrestling Coach Ray is taking his team to an out-of



town meet.
Ray’s employer, Deep Valley School District, requires
all teams to use school buses.
Ray’s ex-spouse works for the Transportation
Department and coordinates all such travel. Ray
decides to sidestep this requirement.
Ray and the Assistant Coach decide to just rent a
couple vans in their name and not tell the AD.
One of the vans gets into an accident when Ray decides
to let one of the students drive. Several occupants are
injured.
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COURSE AND SCOPE SCENARIO
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
HAVE THE COACHES STEPPED OUTSIDE OF
THE COURSE AND SCOPE OF THEIR JOB?
WHAT ARE THE RAY’S PERSONAL LIABILITY
EXPOSURES?
WHAT ARE THE DISTRICT’S LIABILTY
EXPOSURES?
WHAT STEPS COULD BE TAKEN TO PREVENT
THESE EVENTS?
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Duty To Instruct
• Teach the rules of the game.
• Students must understand and appreciate risk.
• Demonstrate students understand proper
techniques.
• Document training activities by time, place, subject
and method.
• Enforce safety rules-No Exceptions.
• Ensure participants have adequate training and
physical requirements for the sport.
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Duty to Instruct
(Continued)
•
Conditioning, nutrition, exercises and drills to prepare the
athlete for the vigor and dangers of the sport.
•
Documented Progression of Skills Plan
•
Mechanisms of the head and the neck and techniques for
injury prevention.
•
Watch for and prohibit playing with injuries.
•
Return from injury procedures / Medical Doctor’s Release
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Fitness of Athletes & Insurance
•
Court decisions held that coaches have the duty
to acknowledge the athletes’:
Physical Fitness
Medical Condition
Skill Level
•
Require evidence of medical insurance.
•
Provide “no-fault” catastrophic coverage for
interscholastic athletic activities.
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Match Competitors
 Match player to player and player to activity
 Coaches must never scrimmage against players
 Factors for matching competitors:
•
•
•
•
•
Height and Weight
Age and Maturity
Skill and Experience
Mental State
Injury, Fatigue or Incapacity
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Duty to Reasonably Foresee
•
Must reasonably foresee potential danger.
•
Control over-aggressive behavior.
•
Plan ahead to provide proper equipment and facilities.
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Duty to Warn
• Documented warning to parents and athletes of the
inherent risks unique to each individual sport.
•
• Obtain signed acknowledgement from parent and
athlete.
• Warn when there are changes in equipment, rules,
techniques and strategy.
• Document time, place, subject and method.
•
•
•
Forms
Meetings
Training Plan
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Defensive Recordkeeping
for Injured Athletes
 Communicate with School Nurse regarding
Individual Health Plans
 A minor can file a claim or suit up to age 21.
 Keep all records relating to an athlete who has
suffered a significant injury.
 The district may send injury records to the
insurance carrier for safekeeping.
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Document, Document, Document
Recommended records to save:
•
•
•
Health/Physical exams
Parental consent to play
Injury and incident forms
Return-to play/Doctor’s clearance(LYSTEDT LAW)
• Warnings of risk and signed receipt
• Use of alternative transportation
• Facility and equipment inspection/maintenance
•
•
•
Written practice plans
Eligibility information
34
Court Case
Hobbs v. Kent School District
During a baseball game, a 15-year old slid head-first
into home plate sustaining a neck fracture, which
resulted in quadriplegia. Plaintiff claimed
defendant negligently failed to provide an ongoing
safety program to teach safe sliding techniques and
to warn of the dangers of head-first sliding.
Settlement for $2 million
35
Court Case
Ondras v. Snohomish School District
A 14-year old student suffered quadriplegic injuries
during a football tackling drill.
The tackling drill positioned a tackler and a ball carrier
10 to 12 yards apart, run at full speed, straight ahead at
each other.
The plaintiff who was the carrier, had never been
taught how to carry the ball. Both players were known
by coaches as hard hitters.
All players and the coaches watched in anticipation of
the hit.
Settlement for $6,250,000
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SCENARIO II
SAFETY, SUPERVISION&JOB DUTIES
 Coach Ray got a new job as a soccer coach in another state. Bob, a long time
friend and the Athletic Director from his old employer, Deep Valley School
District, gave a glowing “Hallmark Card” reference.
 Sean, a returning senior, has aggression issues and is suspected of steroid
use but is the star player. During a practice, Sean picks up a sophomore
rookie and pile drives him into the ground. The sophomore sustains a
cervical fracture and other internal injuries.
 There are no cell phones and no insurance/medical records on the field. Ray
did not think that a formal emergency plan was necessary. The school board
policies require that all athletic teams have one.
 The Assistant Coach is out ill today. Ray gives his key to a student to go find a
phone somewhere and call 911. Ray stays with the student and starts first
aid.
 His parents call the Superintendent, the media and a very good personal
injury lawyer .
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SCENARIO II DISCUSSION
QUESTIONS
 WHAT WENT WRONG?
 WHO HAS POTENTIAL PERSONAL LIABILITY
EXPOSURES?
 WHAT ARE THE EXPOSURES FOR THE
SCHOOL DISTRICTS?
 WHAT WENT RIGHT?
38
Equipment Recommendations
•
Document your actions
•
Properly fit equipment
•
Routine equipment inspection-watch for “customizing
•
Install & repair equipment with qualified personnel
only.
•
List & post the rules & warnings for equipment use.
•
Retain all inspection, maintenance & destruction
records.
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Equipment Recommendations
(Continued)
•
Use District Issued Equipment Only
• No personal equipment unless there is a documented
medical need
•
Clear warnings and consequences for misuse of and
alteration of equipment.
•
Never use illegal and/or improper equipment (e.g. corked
bat).
•
Destroy old equipment that is not to be reused (e.g. football
helmets).
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Transportation

School buses are the safest mode of transportation.

Vans must have a capacity of ten or under.

“Parents will be responsible for transportation” in
writing if no district transportation provided.

Parent signature if athlete released to them rather
than traveling back with team.

Never transport students alone in your car!
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SUMMARY
 Some injuries are preventable, others are not.
 less time, energy and resources are expended in
prevention.
 If there is a serious incident, you will spend far
more time with insurance adjusters and attorneys,
in depositions and in court.
 Coaches are responsible for the supervision of the
student athletes and the Volunteers.
 Think and act defensively…It’s Your Career!
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Thank You
for Your Participation!
Mary Sue Linville
Raymond A. Roberts
Washington Schools Risk Management Pool
P.O. Box 88700, Tukwila, WA 98138
Phone:(206) 394-9719 or (206) 459-8198
Email: [email protected]
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